Domenici Restores $11.5 M for Training at Tech, Dec. 19, 2001

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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 19, 2001 -- U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today reported success in reinstating $11.5 million in new funding to expand the First Responders training program carried out at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.

Domenici, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped negotiate final funding levels in a $20 billion "September 11 emergency response" supplemental appropriations package to boost national defense and homeland security. The package will be given final congressional passage this week as part of the FY2002 Defense Appropriations Bill. From there it will be sent to President Bush for his consideration.

The New Mexico Tech funding, initially secured at the appropriations committee level, was eliminated when the Senate voted to kill a separate supplemental package offered by Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) because of serious budgetary challenges and a potential presidential veto threat.

For House-Senate conference negotiations Tuesday, Domenici then went to work to have the First Responder funding restored within the $20 billion package that should have the blessing of the White House.

"This is a real coup to get this funding restored. In building on domestic preparedness concerns that the whole nation shares, it is only right that we expand the successful First Responder program. New Mexico Tech has proven to be a valuable member of the team that helps get local authorities ready to combat any serious emergency," Domenici said.

Domenici confirmed that New Mexico Tech and its three partners in First Responder training will each receive an $11.5 million increase to greatly expand their ability to train communities in responding to emergency or terrorist situations.

The $11.5 million in supplemental appropriations will be, when enacted, added to the $3.5 million already provided for the New Mexico school through the FY2002 Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary (CJS) Appropriations Bill. President Bush signed the CJS bill in late November. New Mexico Tech will have a total of $15 million in FY2002 for First Responder training, which is $10.5 million more than the $4.5 million it was provided in FY2001 for this work. The training is provided through New Mexico Tech's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center.

New Mexico Tech prepares first responders such as firefighters, law enforcement, medical and other emergency personnel to respond to potential acts of terrorism, including chemical, biological and nuclear threats.

New Mexico Tech was one of the four institutions tapped for the first responder training effort as part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC). Other NDPC partners include Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University, and the Nevada Test Site.

On Dec. 14, Domenici helped announce a new initiative involving New Mexico Tech and its expertise in domestic preparedness training.

New Mexico Tech and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, with financial support from the Department of Energy, have formed the Emergency Medical Support Training Program. New Tech and the UNM hospital
will use their unique capabilities to better prepare medical workers in handling emergencies involving explosives or possible exposure to chemical, biological, radiological, or other environmental agents. The program is being initiated through $2 million provided by the DOE Emergency Operations Training Academy at Kirtland Air Force Base.